The National Republican Senatorial Committee will be launching robo-calls beginning on Tuesday that target U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s alleged support for cap and trade. (Listen to the recording of the call here.)
The RNSC’s effort is on the heels of the Obama Administration’s EPA announcement that the agency is proposing new sweeping rules to target coal plants and cut carbon emissions by 30 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. If passed, much of that reduction will be done through a cap and trade plan that will be left up to the individual states.
“It’s not surprising Mark Begich stands by Barack Obama’s costly regulations, because he supported the same cap-and-trade energy tax plan as Obama,” the robo-call will say. “A cap-and-trade energy tax could have killed almost 6,000 Alaska jobs, and reduced disposable income for Alaskan households by more than $1,200.”
The numbers are questionable, as is the charge that Begich supports cap and trade at all. It’s something that he’s consistently denied, and the record is fuzzy.
But what is true is that if the regulations take effect, cap and trade will be a major compliance tool used by states elsewhere. Alaska has an alternative program, so it won’t be used here. But the state’s power plants and coal industry will be affected by the rules.
What’s also true is that in 2010, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is highly critical of the rule, offered a resolution to stop the EPA from promulgating such regulations. The resolution needed 51 votes. She got 47 votes for it. Begich voted against it. In fact, he gave it a thumbs down on the Senate floor.
A statement by Begich’s press secretary at the time said that he didn’t vote for it because nothing was going to happen immediately. “Some regulations will not go into effect until 2016,” the press secretary wrote. At the time, Begich seemed sure that lawmakers could formulate an energy policy that would make the EPA rule moot.
The draft proposal will now be subject to a 120-day public comment period and will not be finalized until at least June 2015. States will have to submit plans by June 2016.
The issue is likely to haunt Begich throughout the campaign, as well as other Democratic Senators up for reelection in red states.
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